3 Ways to Keep from Crashing.

Posted by Tamera Ford

3 Ways To Keep From Crashing Shortly after my sixteenth birthday, I talked my parents into getting me a car. It was a baby blue Volkswagen beetle. I LOVED it! I loved the white interior, the shape, the smell, everything. The only problem was that I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. My persuasive powers must have been peaking because for some unknown reason, they allowed me to drive my new car to a friends house. There came a moment where I had to find a small defrosted spot on my windshield, hit the brake and shift gears. I couldn’t handle it. After 24 hours of ownership, my baby blue Volkswagen beetle was totaled.

Being in the ministry, serving the Lord by doing anything in His church is the best job on the planet. It is the sweetest ride! And yet, there will be times when we find ourselves in situations that we don’t know how to handle, with people we don’t know how to handle and emotions we don’t know how to handle. How do we keep from crashing?

  1. Make sure you can see clearly.

I crashed that day partly because I neglected to defrost my windows, I was afraid of being late and I didn’t take the time to let the ice clear. Taking the necessary time to see how the Lord is guiding sounds like a “no brainer” and yet how easy it is to start heading in a direction without clear vision. Pressure will push us into doing things we know we shouldn’t do.

Proverbs 29:18 (Message) If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.

Give yourself enough time to see clearly what the Lord would have you do and then attend to that only. There is blessing in what He reveals and the direction He gives. Don’t let yourself be pressured into focusing on direction He didn’t give.

  1. Slow Down.

It’s important to know how to tap the brake. If a situation in the church has you “fired up”, stop talking, complaining and meditating on the perceived problem. Tap the brake, take a step back and stop trying to figure it all out.

Proverbs 3:5 (Message) Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.

Hearing God’s voice in every situation we are faced with is key to staying on track. But, when we are always talking, it’s hard to hear Him. Slow down, be quiet and listen to God.

  1. Shift into neutral.

I’m not a car expert obviously but I’ve read that shifting into neutral is the best way to avoid an accident. I believe the same is true in life and ministry.

Shifting into neutral simply means we don’t make any decisions, yet. It doesn’t mean you quit, cop a bad attitude and shift into park—which will get you nowhere because it’s hard to steer a parked car.

In neutral, you are giving yourself time to be led by the Spirit of God instead of being pressured by the dictations of your emotions or the people around you.

Proverbs 4:11,12 says, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.

In Romans 8:14, Paul explains “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.God leads with wisdom and peace. We want to lead by not being pressured into grinding our gears in an attempt to figure things out.

I encourage you, if you are not experiencing the joy of this amazing ride called ministry don’t keep going till you crash. Give yourself the time you need to see clearly, listen to His voice and be led by His Spirit.

 

 

My Plan For A Perfect Me.

Posted by Mardia Lira.

securedownload As 2015 approached, my New Year resolutions were growing.

Some of my resolutions were: be more healthy, become a better cook, have my house as if it came out of an HGTV magazine, get my daughters to sleep at a proper time, work out (of course), relax, rest more so I can fully enjoy my family, friends, and ministry. Looking at this I realize I needed to become a miraculous mix of Martha Stewart, Julian Michaels and Mother Theresa.

We haven’t even finished the first month of 2015 and I have to admit that I have not been as successful with my resolutions as I hoped for. Some unexpected meetings, a few set backs and the fact that I am potty training my daughter (which is one of the most frustrating things on my list, bringing me many unpleasant surprises, oh anything can happen, I mean ANYTHING can happen…Let’s not go into details ok?) I think I should have been more realistic and understand what time and availability I actually have to accomplish all of this.

Many challenges have popped up in my ministry as well, things that weren’t a part of my to do’s in 2014 that now are. These opportunities even though they are good represent a real challenge for me personally. I had a plan you know, I was supposed to have more free time and feel less uncomfortable with my job description. Isn’t that the way life is supposed to be? But I understand these opportunities are from God placed in front of me in order to fulfill His purpose for my life.

There are some questions I ask myself: What is stopping me from doing this? Fear? Fear to lose my peace? Fear to lose my stability, which is already fragile? Fear of not being capable of doing a good job? Fear of failure?

Many times I have failed in asking God first what His plan is for me, I believe that my plans and my time are good. But I end up frustrated and far away from my purpose. His word says:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If I believe in God’s guidance I shouldn’t be surprised when He changes my plans, for the contrary, I should thank Him for His care and love in my life.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Even in those moments when I feel that it’s too hard and I can’t keep on going, even when it seems like it is a difficult season, I know God is molding me and working His purposes in me. I know He is walking by my side and He will equip me to do every good work He has for me.

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Let’s be realistic, I will always be a bad imitation of Martha Stewart, a bad attempt at being Julian Michaels and I am far, far away from being like Mother Theresa. The only person that I can be with confidence is myself, when I allow God to guide my every step. Now I know that I can trust God without hesitations or fear, trust His timing and even the process He is using to take me to my destiny. I will try my best to get better in some areas of my life and understand my limitations.

John 14:27, “My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (the voice)

What is stopping you from embracing the opportunities God has placed in front of you today in order to fulfill His purpose for your life?

The Grass Is Not Greener.

Posted by Stephanie Shouse

PIC_3914 Oh to be the pastor’s wife of a big church! I imagine that would be so grand! There would always be plenty of money and resources to do everything we dream of doing. We would always have plenty of volunteers to keep the ministry going. And having staff would certainly make our lives easy and our burdens light!

I shared my imaginings with my friend Tiffany whose husband pastors a church of thousands in Oklahoma, and she had a good laugh.

Others may have looked upon my life with envious thoughts:

Oh to be the pastor’s wife of a small church! I imagine that it’s so much easier living in a small town with a slower pace and fewer people. We would have so much more free time without all those people and projects that big churches have. Oh how nice it would be to just do the ministry yourself without having to go through the red tape of staff and board meetings. Wouldn’t that be the life?

As someone who has served in small churches my whole life, that was quite the comic relief!

That’s how it goes, though. We look at the struggles in our own lives and we long for the life that someone else seems to be living. We imagine how much better our lives would be if things were different. The grass on the other side of the fence looks so much greener than our own. We compare and complain and long for something just out of reach, but even when we figure out how to hop that fence, it’s still not what we were hoping for.

I used to wish that God would call us to serve Him at a large church with modern facilities in a big metropolis. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?! But time after time He has moved us to serve in small churches with more traditional buildings in rural communities. As my discontentment and disappointment grew, God used the Jennie Allen Bible study “Stuck” to finally get my attention. She pointed out that God is the author of my story. He is the one calling the shots and directing my path. And when I complain about my situation or long for something other than the life He has given me, I am actually questioning His wisdom, power & love!

What?! I would never do that! God is God and I am not! Jesus loves me this I know! I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N! I would never claim to know better than God! Well, except for when He doesn’t lead me in the direction I wish my life would go…and when I don’t like the life He has given me…or when someone else’s life seems so much better than mine. Oh. Sorry, God.

“Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow…” (Mt 6:28)

God plants the dainty flowers in the field and the giant oak trees in the forest. He plants the tall grass on the prairie and the palm tree on the beach. And each of those creations blooms and grows and praises Him right where He has planted them. They know that their Father made them for a specific purpose. He cares for them and knows what is best. He is God, and they trust Him.

That’s how we should live the life God has given us. Rest in the fact that God has made you and given you a specific purpose. He cares for you and has planted you right where you are for a reason. He is God, the Author of your story. So whether you’re a giant oak in a mighty forest with lots of resources and staff…or you’re a tiny daisy standing alone in the middle of a small town… stop looking over the fence at someone else’s grass, and start blooming where you’ve been planted!

If you were the author of your own story, how would your life be different than it is now? How can you embrace God’s specific calling on your life and bloom where He has planted you today?

Join Us for the Adventure of a Lifetime.

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Experience Operation Baby Rescue firsthand on the Leading and Loving It Rescue trip to Guatemala April 13-17, 2015. Join Lori Wilhite, Lisa Hughes and other Leading and Loving It ladies as we venture into the heart of Guatemala – a nation rich in culture, color, natural beauty … and heartache. Approximately 70 percent of Guatemalans living in rural areas are entrenched in poverty. Today, 80 percent of children living in these regions are malnourished due largely to the lack of clean water.

On this trip, you will work alongside our national partner Hope of Life to:

  • Experience the incredible work of the malnutrition rehabilitation center and special needs facility
  • Distribute supplies and life-saving resources in impoverished villages
  • Serve at a feeding center within a local garbage dump
  • Participate in a clean-water well dedication and ribbon cutting

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A Blanket of Peace in 2015.

Posted by Jenni Clayville

fa941567a28ddb12e8fc5120bc6905aa Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year!

I LOVE the holidays. Really!!! But man, I’m glad it’s 2015. Can I get an Amen? Seriously. Shout it out! AMEN!

I’ve finally packed Christmas away, which is quite a big deal because like I said…I LOVE Christmas, and it always looks like my house threw up Santa Claus and gingerbread people. Truly, Christmas is my favorite holiday…but it hasn’t always been this way.

As joyous as many of us find this season of happiness, thankfulness and merriment, just as many of us experience dread, anger and resentment. My less-than-perfect childhood didn’t make any day “safe”, much less the holidays. It took thousands of dollars of counseling and intentional “resetting” to create new memories and traditions to actually celebrate and enjoy.

My intention is not be Debbie Downer, but as much as we want to just celebrate happiness, there are people all around us doing everything they can just to keep it together. This season also marks the highest depression and anxiety rates among Americans. I’m humbled by the pain that surrounds our world. I have a friend who lost her beloved brother way too young a week before Thanksgiving. Another friend birthed a stillborn that same week. I’m pretty sure that crushed their holiday spirit and presented a new trigger for them to experience every year from this point forward.

For some of us, maybe even MANY of us, this is what this season represents.

Sadness. Pain. Hurt. Isolation. Abandonment. Loss.

I just wanted to encourage all of us to just take a few moments as we are leaving 2014 and entering into the new hopes of 2015 to lift up the broken in our lives. To pray for healing, restoration and a blanket of peace that comes only from God.

Happy New Year, my friends…and may you bless so many others through divine appointments this 2015.